No movie about pro football has ever received the green-light and cooperation from the NFL. The best movie about pro football remains North Dallas Forty, and fans of football movies expecting a dark look at the NFL need not bother with Draft Day, which opens April 11.
The two-hour, big-budget flick starring Kevin Costner is pro-NFL, which explains why the league allowed extensive access to the NFL draft in New York City. The extensive access does give the movie an authentic look no other football movie has ever achieved.
The following is a deliberate, self-serving attempt for the film's promoters to use a line from my review: "Mac Engel of The Big Mac Blog says 'Draft Day' is a touchdown for movie goers!"
Actually, Draft Day is a corny version of Moneyball, without the smarts. This is a comedy/drama that works because no one does sports movies any better than Kevin Costner, and director Ivan Reitman is good at his job. The big-ticket cast members are a bunch of pros who do their job well, but Draft Day is not going to be a smash.
The story: Costner plays Cleveland Browns GM Sonny Weaver, who is under intense pressure from the team's owner, played by veteran Frank Langella, to make a splash and draft a quarterback with the first overall pick.
Costner doesn't want the quarterback; he prefers a linebacker. But he is forced to sell out to acquire the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and then a host of subplots, including a romance with team assistant Jennifer Garner, ensues.
Why it Works: Costner is good at this, Garner is charming, and Langella knows how to be a heavy. Denis Leary plays the coach of the Cleveland Browns, and in this role he brings his usual nervous intensity. The core of the film is the often blind dart-throw that is NFL player acquisition.
Where it Misses: The trades that Costner executes are a bit of a reach, but - who cares? Some of the dialogue assumes the viewer knows nothing about football, or the draft. It's a tad corny.
Look For: When Costner takes a deep look into the background of the potential franchise QB from the University of Wisconsin, it has a very RGIII feel to it.
NFL Cameos: Tons. Roger Goodell, Deion Sanders, Jim Brown, Ray Lewis, and on and on.
Football scenes: Few. This movie is not about the game but the business of the game. The "football scenes" is the banter in the 'War Room' on NFL draft day. Some of the dialogue in these scenes are a bit forced, and obvious, but Costner manages to pull them off.
Eye candy: Even as a God-fearing, woman-preferring male, it's difficult not to look at Tom Welling and admire his rugged features. He plays the incumbent Browns QB desperate to keep his job. This is a movie about the NFL, so pretty people abound. Welling's wife is played by someone named Jennifer McMahan.
Should you see it: At home.
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